Coronavirus one year on: Ashfield District Council leader Jason Zadrozny reflects on a year of lockdown

In his own words, Ashfield’s council leader Jason Zadrozny reflects on how the district has coped during the pandemic as the nation marks the first anniversary of lockdown.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 6:02 pm

“One year on…it’s hard to believe it's been a year since the Prime Minister put us into a national lockdown on March 23, 2020.

Then, I would never have believed we’d still be living under lockdown 12 months on.

I look back as leader of Ashfield District Council with pride at how Ashfield came together as a community and how the council went ‘above and beyond’ to deliver frontline and additional services.

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Ashfield District Council leader Jason Zadrozny.

Those first few weeks, as we all adapted, we were full of uncertainty and the unknown. Working from home, home schooling, daily exercise, queues at the supermarket were all things that became the norm.

Ashfield District Council staff, like so many front line workers, came into their own. I couldn’t be prouder.

You’ll have heard me say, but we are the only council to deliver a full waste collection throughout the pandemic.

We delivered extra waste campaigns including Skip into Summer, Bag it! and recently the BIG Spring Clean, demonstrating our commitment to residents and making Ashfield a cleaner place to live, work and visit.

Our town centres took a hit with the closures of non-essential retailers and hospitality.

We continued to support business, with the reopening of the high street on the horizon our town centre, business support and environmental health teams are working to ensure a successful reopening.

Our submission to the Towns Fund could bring up to £50m to Sutton and Kirkby town centres, and £6.2m has already been secured for Sutton as part of the Future High Streets fund.

These will bring exciting projects, including renovating the existing Sutton Community Academy theatre, a maker space and business hub in Sutton, a new Kirkby indoor market, improvements to Kirkby railway station, plus more.

We know how vital our parks and green spaces have been throughout the pandemic.

We have a £1.8m parks and green spaces investment programme for mprovements across the district including new play equipment, footpath and access improvements.

Exercise has become an important part of our daily lives, I know from speaking to residents how much you are missing gyms and leisure centres. Our leisure centres also played a key part opening as testing centres. With their reopening on the horizon we are excited to welcome residents back.

Our leisure transformation plans continued, construction works at the new Kirkby leisure centre are under way and we announced major improvements at Hucknall and Lammas leisure centres.

Ashfield pulled together with incredible community spirit but also great loss.

In April, we lost a great councillor to coronavirus, Coun Anthony Brewer, a fantastic man and friend. The loss of Tony brought home the reality of coronavirus and the impact it had on so many families.

To remember those we have lost, a memorial stone has been placed in the garden at the King’s Mill hospital entrance of King’s Mill Reservoir.

As we take the next step on the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, I look back and say that despite the uncertainty, difficulties and loss, I am proud of how our community pulled together.

Thank you to everyone who goes above and beyond.”

Coun Jason Zadrozny